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Science. 2005 Nov 18;310(5751):1144-7.

Rigid biological systems as models for synthetic composites.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Washington, Roberts Hall 335, Box 352120, Seattle, WA 98195-2120, USA.


Advances that have been made in understanding the mechanisms underlying the mechanical behavior of a number of biological materials (namely mollusk shells and sponge spicules) are discussed here. Attempts at biomimicry of the structure of a nacreous layer of a mollusk shell have shown reasonable success. However, they have revealed additional issues that must be addressed if new synthetic composite materials that are based on natural systems are to be constructed. Some of the important advantages and limitations of copying from nature are also described here.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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